Quebec's maple syrup industry torn apart by a quota system

22 April 2016

The cradle of global maple syrup production, Quebec, is in disarray. On one side is the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, whose members secured mandatory quotas to protect their inventory, provide financial stability and ensure regular supplies to buyers.

The rebel side is made up of producers protesting at the Federation’s monopolistic controls, rigid policies and authoritarian methods, which they claim have led to producers elsewhere in Canada and the US benefiting at their expense.

Pierre Paradis, the Quebec minister of agriculture, fisheries and foods, said: “Since we put in these controls, we went from 80% of world production to about 70%, and we are heading towards 60%.”

The Federation allocates a production quota to each of the province’s 13,500 producers. It is the sole authorised buyer of Quebec-produced syrup and sets one price each season, only paying producers when their syrup has been sold on.

The delayed payment has upset suppliers and has been exacerbated by the Federation stockpiling 9% of production. Producers waited more than a year for payment in 2014/15.

The situation has driven some to the black market. Daniel Gaudreau, charged with selling beyond his quota, has been hit with fines of C$300,000 and charged C$65,000 for security guards posted on his land by the Federation. “They have more power than police,” Gaudreau said.

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